Autumn

Tengu no Hiwatari Festival – Demons, Deities and Walking Through Fire

Frances

Writer

One of Japan’s traditional religious events, the original purpose of the extraordinary Tengu-no-hiwatari festival was to ensure the safety and success of the important local fishing industry. In this article, I’m going to introduce you to this flashy outstanding event!

History of the Festival

Though its origins remain unclear, a local centenarian reports remembering the festival taking place as a young girl. As such, it is reasonable to assert that this magnificent fire-walking spectacle dates back over a century.

Characters and Props Used

Sarutahiko: a Shinto deity, usually depicted wearing a tengu mask.
Tengu: a demon in Japanese mythology, easily identifiable by its characteristic long nose.
Hiwatari: the act of walking through fire.

What Happens?

The main event of the festival is the tengu-no-hiwatari – the fire-walking itself. A man of 30 – 40 years represents the god Sarutahiko, donning a tengu mask and red clothing. The representative leads a portable shrine (mikoshi) around the town – the purpose of this being to purify his body.
Afterward, the Sarutahiko makes his way to the main shrine (along with the portable shrine), where the magnificent hiwatari takes place.

 

Each year, almost 1,000 people come to witness the surreal (and slightly nerve-wracking!) sight of the Sarutahiko stepping through the flames. The fire itself is around 3 meters high, and the Sarutahiko will cross it a total of 3 times. The sound of drums and flutes in the background also add a sense of wild, spiritual excitement to the overall atmosphere.

Interesting Facts About the Festival

Each year, the locals choose who will portray the Sarutahiko. Those who have previously played the part look back on it positively as an amazing experience, considering it an honor to have been chosen for such a distinguished role. For as long the locals of Furubira continue to value their folk traditions, this is a festival that will surely continue for many years to come.

Information and Advice for Spectators

For health and safety reasons, visitors may watch but are unable to participate in the performance. I highly recommend bringing a good quality camera, as this is a perfect opportunity for you to take some truly once-in-a-lifetime photographs!

Tourist Information About the Region

Being a fishing region, the fresh, local seafood is a must-try. From June to August, the area’s most popular delicacy is sea urchin, with squid coming into season during the autumn months.

Details and Access

Date & time

Usually the 2nd weekend of July and 2nd weekend of September each year (2018’s dates were 14th & 15th July and 8th & 9th September).

Location & address

Ebisu Shrine (September): 989 Furubira-cho, Furuhira-gun, Hokkaido, Japan.
Midori Park (July): 42-1 Shinchi-machi, Furunira-cho, Furuhira-gun, Hokkaido, Japan.
Official homepage of the event (Japanese only): http://www.town.furubira.lg.jp/tourism/detail.php?id=88

Access

Approximately a 2-hour drive from Sapporo. Please note that there is no car park at the venue itself. However, car parking is available nearby.
For further details please see: http://www.town.furubira.lg.jp/tourism/

Closing Remarks

Of Japan’s hundreds of festivals, all of which offer something new and exciting to visitors, with the rise in large-scale, commercially based events, it is these older, religious & smaller-scale cultural gems that are sadly at risk of becoming a dying breed. And yet it is through these smaller, quirkier, local festivals that Japan’s unique beauty and historic identity are able to survive. Wherever your time in Japan takes you, I wholeheartedly recommend ‘going local,’ and witnessing one of these hard-to-find spectacles.
If you would like a local person to take you to this festival, and tell you even more about the event and surroundings, please check the banner below.

More about Hokkaido

How was reading Tengu-no-hiwatari festival ? Do you want to visit this festival? However, not everyone can make it. Sometimes, you cannot get a vacation when you want, or some periods are too expensive. Or maybe you can only come during certain seasons…

In that case, what about reading this article below. You`ll see what you can do in Hokkaido for whole year.

URL: https://festivalgo.huber-japan.com/events/7030/

Would You Like to Know How to Enjoy a Japanese Festival Even More?

A lot of people when they get to a Matsuri for the first time feel a bit lost. They confuse about what is happening around. If you are new to Japanese Festivals or want to know an alternative way of how you can enjoy these events, the following article will provide you with a set of helpful tips on how to choose a proper festival and activities you should try there. Please don`t hesitate to take a look at it!

URL: https://festivalgo.huber-japan.com/events/5363/

Don`t Stay Hungry at the Festival!

Image courtesy of Tomomarusan

The food presented during Matsuri is pretty different from the one you get at the restaurants in Japan. Besides, there is a certain charm in grabbing some snack from a food stall and diving back into the festival crowd. I am sure that you will discover something new about Japanese festival food from the following article!

URL: https://festivalgo.huber-japan.com/events/5504/

Frances

Despite having lived here for four years as an English teacher, Japan never ceases to both surprise and delight me.

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